Tag Archive | "Pregame Ceremonies"

9-11-baseball

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Baseball Post September 11th

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Trish Vignola

You can say a lot about Bud Selig over his tenure. You can complain about what he did wrong. You can complain about what he did right. Nonetheless, not one of us would have wanted to trade places with him eleven years ago today.

Deciding whether baseball should return after September 11th….

This year, baseball once again marks the solemn anniversary with flag patches on caps, special lineup cards, base jewels and pregame ceremonies. Once again Selig sets the tone.

“All of us within Major League Baseball made a solemn promise after Sept. 11, 2001: We Shall Not Forget,” Selig said last year. “When I look back on those days once play had resumed, it gives me pride that the national pastime provided fans with some moments of normalcy and joy.”

Selig continued, “I am very proud of the efforts throughout Major League Baseball to remember and to commemorate, and like all Americans, it is my great hope that acts of kindness and service will renew the spirit of unity that resonated in our nation after Sept. 11.”

It is remarkable how our national pastime has become entwined with memories of the post-Sept 11th recovery process. From players visiting with first responders to Shea Stadium being used as a relief center to the outpouring of patriotism and unity (after play resumed), baseball helped our nation begin to cope with its shock, horror and grief. It’s hard to now imagine commemoration the day without it.

It just seems right.

Since September 11, 2001, the Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the 7th inning. Joe Torre, now Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations, mused to MLB.com “…when they pan the audience, I look at the youngsters and I get a lump in my throat, because those kids aren’t going to grow up with the same freedoms we did. It’s necessary, but they won’t.”

“The No. 1 [change] is the security,” Torre said. “You go through any airport. Not just airports, but theaters and certain sporting events. I know some people resent it, because we’re used to so much freedom, but people were trying to hurt us on our own soil. It was devastating.”

Ok. I’ll keep my mouth shut the next time Yankee Stadium security makes me turn my iPhone on.

Umpire, and now Senior Arbiter, Joe West questions “Did 9/11 change this country? Yes, absolutely.” He goes on to tell MLB.com, “…every now and then, I think we should all be reminded how important life is. I was lucky enough to get reinstated to my position as an umpire [there was a labor action at the time], and I realize how lucky all Americans are to be part of the greatest country on earth. And I promise that as long as I’m able, Merle Haggard’s words in a song are what I’ll live by: ‘When [they're] running down my country, man, [they're] walking on the fightin’ side of me.’”

Retired centerfielder, Doug Glanville, grew up six miles from the George Washington Bridge. He put the plight of baseball in perspective that faithful day. “So many lost lives and how it shook our entire world,” Glanville told MLB.com. “We were trying to do what we do, which is play baseball. I just remember the conflict in deciding if we should play, when we should play in terms of resuming. Everything was so uncertain and everybody was so fearful about the possibility of what could happen next.”

Was it right to move on?

Glanville continues, “I agreed with the idea that baseball could heal, but we also wanted to make sure if we needed to have some perspective first or just digest it. To respect the lost lives and see what possibly could be next, because we were playing sporting events with thousands of people congregating. That seemed pretty dicey given the possibility of another strike.” In our darkest hour, baseball opted to continued. The players quietly supported charities, visited first responders, but most importantly they played.

We might complain about their paychecks or when they single-handedly destroyed our fantasy baseball teams, still Major League Baseball did something eleven years ago for which I will be eternally grateful. They simply reported to work.

Thank you. I needed to say that.

I guess Doug Glanville describes it best. “So that was a concern, but we also did think it was compelling, the idea of giving people something to enjoy, the American experience, the national pastime.”

Baseball, what could be more American than that?

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JackieRobinsonSmall

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Major League Baseball Commemorates Jackie Robinson Day This Week

Posted on 14 April 2012 by Trish Vignola

It’s Jackie Robinson Day (April 15th) and this year is a bit more special than before. It’s the 65th anniversary of the Hall of Famer’s Debut in 1947. League-Wide participation on April 15th will include all players wearing Robinson’s number 42, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) clinics, special ceremonies in Major League Baseball ballparks, including one featuring the Robinson family at Yankee Stadium and the debut a National Jackie Robinson Day public service announcement voiced by Hall of Famer Vin Scully.

Maybe it’s the old historian in me, but I really love Jackie Robinson Day. It’s a celebration of a great man and the recognition of Baseball’s role in American history. “When Jackie Robinson took the field in Brooklyn 65 years ago, he transcended the sport he loved and helped change our country in the most powerful way imaginable,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “It is a privilege for Major League Baseball to celebrate Jackie’s enduring legacy each year, and we are proud that every April 15th, our young fans around the world have an opportunity to learn everything that the Number 42 stands for – courage, grace and determination.”

Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, comments, “It gives us great pride to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Jack’s barrier-breaking accomplishments.” “This anniversary serves as a reminder of Jack’s enduring legacy and the profound impact he had on America. It is my hope that this commemoration serves as an inspiration to all as we look to unite behind our common goals.”

Some of the pregame ceremonies will include home clubs featuring Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards. A little showy at best, but there will also be special video shown in-stadium highlighting Jackie’s story and nine values. The Jackie Robinson Day PSA will trace Baseball’s diverse history of legends and today’s stars back to Jackie Robinson. If you are not lucky enough to get to a ballpark that day, the video will feature in order of appearance All-Stars Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Ichiro Suzuki and Mariano Rivera, as well as Baseball Legends Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson. In order to grow the game, especially amongst the United States ever growing diverse population, it is absolutely essential to celebrate how Baseball doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What other sport can say that it played a major role in actually changing social and cultural mores in the country.

Similar to what they did in Japan, MLB is also taking to the local communities. On Sunday, April 15, 2012, Major League Baseball and RBI will host a baseball and softball clinic on the baseball field in Macombs Dam Park (Bronx, NY) for 200 young boys and girls from programs throughout the New York-area. This MLB youth initiative is designed to give underserved young people and communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons.

At some point in the late twentieth century, MLB sincerely fell out of touch with the American people. Nowhere is this more evident than with the 1994 strike. When Baseball came back, it suddenly had company – children playing Basketball and Soccer were vastly outnumbering children playing Little League. These sports (especially Basketball) offered more scholarships and opportunities for children in urban areas, suddenly making Baseball look like a relic of a bygone era. If MLB is looking to protect the future of the game, initiatives like Jackie Robinson Day are far more important than any baseball academy they can start on foreign soil.

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